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The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 Blu-ray Review

Written by ZigZag

Blu-ray released by Arrow Video

The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 Large

Written and directed by Wes Craven
1985, 86 minutes, Rated R
Released on September 24th, 2019

Starring:
Tamara Stafford as Cass
Kevin Spirtas as Roy (as Kevin Blair)
Janus Blythe as Rachel/ Ruby
Peter Frechette as Harry
Colleen Riley as Jane
Michael Berryman as Pluto
John Bloom as The Reaper
Robert Houston as Bobby

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Review:

Seven years ago, the Carter family took a road trip that ended in tragedy after their car broke down in a remote desert location. Their camp came under siege by a group of hungry cannibals who killed the majority of the family, leaving only a few survivors to fight back and escape. Now, Bobby Carter has tried to put the past behind him but remains haunted by the nightmare experience that brought so much death and destruction to his loved ones. In recent years, Bobby has developed a powerful new fuel source used to enhance the performance of the motocross bikes of the team he captains. In order to get to the location of the next race, the riders will have to cross the territory that changed Bobby’s life forever. He refuses to join them, insisting they be careful and assures them he will see them when they return.

The group heads into the desert and gets sidetracked by a bumpy shortcut that leaves their bus low on gas and the riders stranded in an abandoned mining community. There are a few derelict buildings and an open shaft but no phones or residents. The kids tell the stories about a family of cannibals living in this area and dismiss them as bunk until Ruby, one of the team, reveals she was once a part of that clan and barely escaped alive. Later that night, the cannibals sneak into camp and begin killing the bikers one by one. The sole survivor is a blind woman named Cass, who tries to avoid being captured and killed.

1977’s The Hills Have Eyes is a terrifying movie about a family stranded in the desert being stalked by a group of hungry cannibals. Writer/director Wes Craven (The Serpent and the Rainbow) returned to the material seven years later with The Hills Have Eyes Part 2. What should have been a home run turns out to be a goofy mess of a movie. Starting with the main character, Bobby Carter (Robert Houston), returning from the first film. We open with a series of flashbacks that recap the original picture as Bobby talks to his therapist. He is encouraged to return to the desert to face his demons, which seems like a logical progression of the plot, but Bobby simply refuses to go and stays behind, exiting the picture without a character arc or last-minute redemption. Bobby is out of the film within fifteen minutes and never seen again.

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There are three additional returning characters, including Ruby (Janus Blythe), the reformed cannibal who escaped her family; Pluto (Michael Berryman), the dangerous desert psycho left for dead in the first go round; and Beast, the family dog. All three of these characters take time out for a lengthy flashback of previous footage – including the dog! A new villain is introduced as The Reaper (John Bloom), an uncle no one mentioned in the last movie. Our supporting cast of characters is a group of stereotypical slasher movie victims that remain underdeveloped beyond their basic archetypes. There’s the sporty one, the cocky one, the practical joker, et cetera. Our Final Girl stands out from the crowd for the sheer reason that she is blind. There really isn’t much of a payoff to this – her impairment is never really explored, and in the final act she quickly navigates unfamiliar terrain with ease.

Wes Craven made a strong debut with The Last House on the Left (1972) and followed up with the equally terrifying The Hills Have Eyes (1977). Craven’s career was made up of a series of hits and misses (as anyone’s is) and he was desperate for work following the failure of Swamp Thing (1982). The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 was viewed as a means to preserve his reputation as a viable director as he tried to put together his next picture, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). He wrote a typical ‘80s slasher movie with kids going out on a doomed journey and getting picked off one by one by a psychopath. The project was rushed into production and ran out of money two thirds of the way through the shoot and quickly shut down. The film sat unreleased for a year until the success of Elm Street renewed confidence in Craven’s reputation. Footage from the original movie was inserted to pad the running time for release. Craven has since disowned the picture citing studio interference.

Craven is familiar with the slasher subgenre and loads the script with clichés that are honestly beneath him. There are too many characters and several loose ends as the film lumbers to its fiery conclusion. He follows the template of the original Hills, but doesn’t seem as engaged with the material, as if this is simply a work-for-hire as opposed to something he wrote himself. The film received a critical beating upon release and audiences left disappointed. Over the years, the stigma that this film is a dog has grown, as has its reputation as a movie “so bad, it’s good”. I won’t say it’s good by any means, but it is certainly more entertaining with lowered expectations. There is some blood and nudity and slasher fans will feel right at home, but new viewers may want to keep this one at a safe distance. This title is for Craven completists only.

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Video and Audio:

The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 was previously released on Blu-ray in 2012 from Kino Lorber with disappointing technical merits. This new edition features a 2K scan and remaster of the original camera negative with pleasing results. Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the picture quality is greatly improved with stronger colors and more detail. Black levels are solid and flesh tones appear natural throughout.

The uncompressed mono audio mix is carried here as a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track and it gets the job done. Dialogue levels are steady and never difficult to understand while music and effects cues are well-balanced and unobtrusive.

Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

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Special Features:

The podcasters at The Hysteria Continues contribute an entertaining and fast-moving commentary track that is loaded with great stories. They are aware of how horrible this movie is and try to determine what went wrong. There are humorous anecdotes and lots of trivia making for a fun listen.

Blood, Sand and Fire: The Making of The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 (31 minutes) is a newly recorded documentary featuring interviews with members of the cast and crew, including producer Peter Locke, composer Harry Manfredini and actors Michael Berryman and Janus Blythe. The history of the production is recounted – warts and all – as those involved share their memories from the shoot.

A photo gallery plays as a slideshow (7 minutes) set to music from the film. The gallery contains production stills, publicity shots, behind-the-scenes images and international poster art.

The original theatrical trailer is included but loaded with spoilers, so you may want to watch the feature first.

The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 09 The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 10

Grades:

Movie: Twostars The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 Small
Buy Amazon Us
The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 Small
Buy Amazon Uk
Video: Fourandahalfstars
Audio: Fourstars
Features: Threestars
Overall: Threeandahalfstars

About The Author
ZigZag
Author: ZigZag
Staff Writer
ZigZag's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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